I'm pretty sure that by now almost everyone in Louisville has heard a Brandon Bender story. I'm equally sure that the majority of them have little to nothing to do with basketball.
Bender has indeed achieved a sort of Louisville legend status, but probably in the exact opposite manner he envisioned eight years ago when he spoke publicly about leaving Ballard High School early to enter the NBA Draft.
Where there's smoke there's usually fire, and The C-J opened the scorching door to Bender's present life on Wednesday.
Bender allegedly took two credit cards that did not belong to him and made several purchases totaling more than $300, according to a police report.
Ironically enough, Bender was arrested on Jan. 5 at Ballard. He was released on his own recognizance and missed a January 10 court hearing, though his attorney was present.
Speaking of trouble with the law, have you all heard about this Genarlow Wilson story? It's unbelievable. The kid gets a BJ from a 15-year-old when he was 17 and he goes to jail for 10 years because of some Georgia law that's undoubtedly only enforced when the kid's skin color doesn't match the DA's. Great kid too, the kind the system is supposed to protect. Amazing.
And how about Serena Williams? The two-time Aussie Open champ is headed to her third finals appearance, this time doing so as an unseeded player. And what about Mr. Roddick? If the Colts can beat the Patriots and the Red Sox can beat the Yankees, maybe Mr. Roddick can beat Mr. Federer. Should be a great match.
(That was me doing Vitale. Pissed you off a little bit didn't it?)
The similarities between Bender and Derrick Caracter have been discussed at length since the freshman arrived on campus this summer, but Caracter seems like the kind of kid you have to beat shit into with choppy, direct statements, so maybe he needs to hear it again.
This is where you're headed. You don't want this. A great life is right there for the taking and you're letting it slip away. This isn't about contributing to the team anymore, this is about helping yourself. You're in the process of making a horrible, horrible mistake. You don't have to.
These stories about youthful talent gone awry have become so prevalent that society has become almost desensitized to them, and it's a shame. People are so quick to jump on these kids and label them as the problem, the ones who are causing all this by not being able to have any self control. This is valid to a point; there does come a time when a young man must step up and take responsibility for his actions and accept that choosing a path in life is up to the individual. Still, this doesn't excuse the middle-aged men with the slicked back hair and the imposter suits that treat 15 and 16-year-old kids as if they were a driving lay-up away from curing cancer.
Everyone wants to believe that they're good at what they do. If you're a receptionist and multiple people have come up to you and said that you answer the phone better than anyone they've ever heard, when your supervisor tells you that you need to raise your voise on calls, your first instinct is going to be "What the fuck do they know? I have an amazing voice and have been told so on many occasions, I'm not changing anything."
With this in mind I've decided that I'm going to start my own summer camp, the anti-ABCD Camp, and I'm going to assume the role of the anti-Sonny Vaccaro.
Each year I'm going to round up a ton of high school talent put them through some drills, let them scrimmage, and then tell them how bad they are.
Point out to them that being able to dribble really fast in a straight line with your right hand for an uncontested layup isn't going to work next year. Show them that being tall means that people will automatically tell you that you're good when you're not. Teach them that shooting is a pretty important part of the game. Inform them that they live in the United States, a country that hasn't won a gold medal at an international tournament in seven years. You're not the best of the best, you're above average players for your age in a bronze medal country, nothing else. You're an unproven high school basketball player that more than likely won't be known in 10 years. I'll Make them read a book.
You can make a living playing a game Derrick, or you can become an erroneous, obscure name, accompanied only by laughter.
You're going to face difficult choices throughout life, but this isn't one of them.